a country lass or working girl: The milkmaid was a healthy wench.
Usually Facetious. a girl or young woman.
Archaic. a strumpet.

verb (used without object)

to associate, especially habitually, with promiscuous women.

Origin of wench

1250–1300; Middle English, back formation from wenchel, Old English wencel child, akin to wancol tottering, said of a child learning to walk; akin to German wankeln to totter
Related formswench·er, noun
Can be confusedwench winch
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for wenching

Historical Examples of wenching

  • Their other chief hobby was, in the language of the time, wenching.

    Rowlandson's Oxford

    A. Hamilton Gibbs

  • Why, is any business more public than drinking and wenching?

  • Heads of colleges, reverend clerics, and holders of Fellowships must all answer to the charge of wenching.

    Rowlandson's Oxford

    A. Hamilton Gibbs

  • Mdrie Gautruche was one of the wenching, idling, vagabond workmen who make their whole life a Monday.

    Germinie Lacerteux

    Edmond and Jules de Goncourt

British Dictionary definitions for wenching



a girl or young woman, esp a buxom or lively one: now used facetiously
archaic a female servant
archaic a prostitute

verb (intr)

archaic to frequent the company of prostitutes
Derived Formswencher, noun

Word Origin for wench

Old English wencel child, from wancol weak; related to Old High German wanchal, wankōn
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for wenching



"to associate with common women," 1590s, from wench (n.). Related: Wenched; wenching.



late 13c., wenche "girl or young woman," shortened from wenchel "child" (12c.), from Old English wencel, probably related to wancol "unsteady, fickle, weak," and cognate with Old Norse vakr "child, weak person," Old High German wanchal "fickle." The word degenerated through being used in reference to servant girls, and by mid-14c. was being used in a sense of "woman of loose morals, mistress."

The wenche is nat dead, but slepith. [Wyclif, Matt. ix:24, c.1380]
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper